Does God really exist? Did Jesus really exist? Did He actually die? If He really did die, how could He be brought back to life three days later? Just like the old Radio Shack commercials, “You have questions…we have answers!” God’s Word, early church fathers, historians, and eye witnesses all have answers to those questions.
If you’ve asked any or all of those questions before, you are not alone. For 2000 years, people have been asking about Jesus, and the inevitable question that comes after those are asked. The last question is always, “So what?” I mean, if all of those questions are answered according to what the Bible says, what difference would it make to your life or mine?
For now…let’s just answer the first issue of how do we know that God really exists. I’ll come back later this week and answer the questions about Jesus.
“The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be,” said Carl Sagan in his popular book and television show, Cosmos, obviously leaving no room for a Creator or anything supernatural.
=More recently Richard Dawkins declared in his bestselling book The God Delusion, “The factual premise of religion – the God Hypothesis – is untenable. God almost certainly does not exist.”
So how can we be confident that God actually exists? Why do we believe in God? Why should anyone believe in God? In the process, I hope to alleviate the doubts that some of us might be wrestling with.
You probably know that we’re living in an age of growing skepticism where we’re increasingly asked to defend our belief in God. In fact, many of the top-selling books of recent years were written by a group of thinkers that have become known as the “New Atheists.” People like Richard Dawkins, who I just quoted and who is probably the most aggressive atheist today; Sam Harris, who wrote The End of Faith; and the late Christopher Hitchens, whose bestselling book was provocatively titled, God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
These authors, and a lot of other modern skeptics, have been active not only in writing popular books, but also in spreading their anti-God ideas on social media, through their blogs, in magazine articles, in interviews, and at live events like the so-called “Reason Rally” that happened a few years ago.
- Creation Requires A Creator, Romans 1:18-23
Vs. 18= They suppress the truth…
This is done in their actions by living contrary to the way God’s character is revealed in His word. They live opposed to the truth of God and His word.
Vs. 19= which is known about God is made evident to them.
Vs. 20=Eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen.
It is because of the existence of these two things that people in the world, without hearing the gospel or without knowing what the Bible says, know in their hearts that God exists.
Vs. 20= People are without excuse.
They are without excuse from knowing that God exists and that they are going to be held accountable by Him.
Just as you don’t have to teach a sinning child to look over their shoulder when they do something wrong, grown people who sin in God’s presence know that God is there by nature, but they sin anyway, reaping wrath upon themselves.
Just seeing the invisible qualities in creation cannot save them, but they can and do know that God exists.
Vs. 21= Even though they knew God, they did not honor Him.
God has revealed Himself to them and has given them truth in their hearts that He exists and they proved to be foolish by neglecting Him.
- Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
Things don’t just pop into existence without a cause. Science itself operates on the principle that every event requires a cause.
=As Einstein once declared, “The scientist is possessed by a sense of universal causation.”
- The universe began to exist.
Almost the entire scientific community acknowledges this fact – that the universe came into existence long ago in what is called the Big Bang.
=Stephen Hawking, the popular author, physicist, and featured character in the recent movie, “The Theory of Everything” (who is also an atheist), summed it up like this: “Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang.”
The problem of whether or not the universe had a beginning was a great concern to the German philosopher, Immanuel Kant. He felt there were logical contradictions either way. If the universe had a beginning, why did it wait an infinite time before it began? He called that the thesis. On the other hand, if the universe had existed forever, why did it take an infinite time to reach the present stage? He called that the antithesis. Both the thesis and the antithesis depended on Kant’s assumption that time was Absolute. That is to say, it went from the infinite past to the infinite future, independently of any universe that might or might not exist in this background. This is still the picture in the mind of many scientists today.
But why do we think this is an either/or situation? What if science is simply pointing to the very same event described at the beginning of the book of Genesis? That’s exactly what many Christian scholars believe – and it makes a lot of sense.
So, we’ve seen that 1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause; and 2. The universe began to exist; and this leads us to the necessary logical conclusion:
- Therefore, the universe has a cause.
The Big Bang itself calls for a cause outside of the physical universe – one that is not physical, but that is wise and powerful enough to make it all happen.
From a Christian point of view, the Big Bang sounds like an awfully compelling scientific description of the biblical doctrine that theologians have proclaimed for centuries, which is “creation ex nihilo.”
This literally means “creation out of nothing.” The very first words of Genesis tell us that, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” That’s why Einstein and many other thinkers initially resisted this idea – they didn’t like the theological implications that came with it. It gave too much support to the idea of a supernatural “creation.” But I think we should follow the facts wherever they lead, don’t you?
Well, those facts lead us to God!
So we see that in spite of what many people say, science is not at odds with belief in God. On the contrary, science actually provides compelling evidence for God’s existence! So I say let’s not fight good science – especially since it’s our friend! In fact, let’s look at a second science-related reason that directs us to God.
2. Adjustments Require An Adjuster, Isaiah 40:25-28
But here’s what is amazing: the evidence shows that this incredible array of life, beauty, and complexity did not spring into existence all by itself. Rather, what science is now telling us is that the building blocks of our world – the laws and “physical constants” that govern all the matter in the universe – appear to be precisely balanced and finely tuned so that life could exist and flourish.
These laws and constants were dialed in all at once. In other words, when the universe exploded into being there were a number of variables within the very structure of the universe that had to be set exactly the way they are in order for life to exist. Scientists have so far discovered about fifty of these constants that must be “just so” in order for life to be possible anywhere in the universe.
Physicists have discovered four forces in nature, and one of those is the force of gravity. They have calculated that the strength of each of these forces must fall within a very specific range or there would be no conscious life possible.
=For example, if the force of gravity were to change by just one part in ten thousand billion billion billion relative to the total range of the strengths of the four forces in nature, then conscious life would be virtually impossible anywhere in the universe.
There are many other physical constants that are also finely tuned. If they were changed even slightly, it would have disastrous consequences for life in our universe. For instance, if the explosion of the Big Bang had differed in strength by as little as one part in 10.60 (that’s ten to the sixtieth power), life as we know it would not be possible in the universe. And the list of examples goes on and on.
When Lee Strobel was writing his book, The Case for a Creator, he interviewed an expert in these matters, Dr. Robin Collins. During their interview, Dr. Collins referred to another physical constant, the cosmological constant, which is the energy density of empty space – also known as “dark energy.” Collins said that the setting of this one is “inconceivably precise.” He illustrated it this way: “Let’s say you were way out in space and were going to throw a dart at random toward Earth. It would be like successfully hitting a bull’s-eye that’s one trillionth of a trillionth of an inch in diameter. That’s less than the size of one solitary atom.”
If the odds are that small for just this one area to be so precisely tuned to support life, imagine how small the odds become when you add in all the other factors that had to be fine tuned to a razor’s edge of precision. The chances become so small that, as Lee Strobel likes to say, “By comparison, they make the lottery look like a sure bet!”
=The atheist cosmologist, Fred Hoyle, said that it looks like “a superintellect has monkeyed with physics.”
=Antony Flew, one of the most prominent atheists in the 20th century, rejected his atheism at age 81 because of this evidence. He shocked the world when he announced, “I now believe that the universe was brought into existence by an infinite intelligence.”
=Dr. Paul Davies, one of the leading physicists and cosmologists of our day, puts it this way: “I cannot believe that our existence in this universe is a mere quirk of fate…we are truly meant to be here.” That’s quite a statement for someone who doesn’t even claim to believe in a personal God!
So the argument stands: the amazing convergence of the many examples of fine-tuning in the universe – each independently set to the precise measures necessary to support life – points powerfully to the existence of an astonishingly intelligent designer who made it all “just so”…just for us!
As Isaiah 40 puts it (verses 25-28)
“To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name, by the greatness of his might, and because he is strong in power not one is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the LORD, and my right is disregarded by my God”? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.”
3. Laws Require A Lawgiver, Romans 2:12-16.
Think about this: Each of us has an internal standard of morality – one that is above us and that comes from outside of us. Why do I say that the source of this morality is above and outside us?
Because everybody has it, yet nobody consistently lives up to it.
Here’s the key question: Why would each of us invent a moral code that we can never quite fulfill, and then employ it to frustrate and condemn ourselves all life long? We didn’t. We didn’t invent it, and we can’t get rid of it. It’s part of what it means to be human. The Bible describes it as our conscience.
- C.S. Lewis comments on this innate sense of morality that each of us has in the opening section of his classic book, Mere Christianity: “Whenever you find a man who says he does not believe in a real Right and Wrong, you will find the same man going back on this a moment later. He may break his promise to you, but if you try breaking one to him he will be complaining, “It’s not fair.” … Have they not let the cat out of the bag and shown that, whatever they say, they really know the Law of Nature just like anyone else?”
It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. People may be sometimes mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong; but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table.
Now, some people argue that our moral sense is instilled in us by the society in which we live. Though that may be partially true, certain aspects of our moral understanding go beyond mere culture. Why is it, for example, that even as outsiders to the Iraqi culture, we intuitively judged as wrong the actions of Saddam Hussein when we learned that he had murdered family members, tortured and killed people he considered to be political threats, and ordered the gassing of thousands of Kurds?
And we certainly know that what ISIS is doing to people in Iraq and Syria and other places is evil. They defend themselves by claiming that their kidnapping, selling into slavery, raping, and murdering of people are all actions sanctioned by their religion, but we know in our hearts it’s wrong – period.
And what about Adolf Hitler? His “final solution” to eliminate the Jewish race may have been embraced by the entire Nazi party. Yet we do not, and certainly should not, hold back from condemning the Nazis’ horrible actions merely because what they did was within the context of their own culture or in line with their own laws. If murdering innocent people is wrong in your own home, certainly it is wrong in your neighbor’s home across the street or on the other side of town – and in other countries where they speak different languages. It doesn’t matter where one commits murder; it’s still wrong – period.
But where did we get this universal sense of right and wrong? If we didn’t invent it, if it transcends the realms of culture and politics, if it’s something we can’t get away from, then what is its source?
Could it be that a Moral Lawgiver actually knit those moral standards, along with the ability to understand and operate by them, into the very fabric of what it means to be human?
Consider Romans 2:12-16…
Vs. 12= sinned without the law= perish without the law.
Vs. 12= sinned under law= judged by law
The Gentile does not perish for the reason that he lacks the law which the Jew possesses, but because he sins. In speaking of the Jew, Paul says he “will be judged” by the law, but this does not imply exoneration, for no Jew has succeeded in keeping the law.
For one, the law is written on scrolls for them to read and respond to, but for the other, the law is written on their hearts, for them to know and respond in accordance to.
In other words, God will judge all those for their sins based on either the written law of Moses, or the written law on their hearts.
Vs. 14= Gentiles, doing by nature the things of the law, are a law unto themselves.
Quote: “Despite great differences in laws and customs among people around the world, what unites them in a common humanity is the recognition that some things are right and others are wrong.”
Vs. 15= the law is written in their hearts.
The Gentiles are doing by nature the things of the law, which means they have some knowledge of good and evil. Sound familiar?
Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve ate from the tree, they became like God in that they knew good and evil. Not only did man inherit a sinful nature, but whether the law is written in stone or on our hearts, we still know it.
Why then did God even give His people a written law?
Why not just use the law written on their hearts?
God desired to have a special people that knew Him personally and worshipped and obeyed only Him, so He gave them laws that set them apart from those that did not have that law.
Vs. 16= on the day when God will judge the secrets of men through Jesus Christ.
Gentiles live with a sense that there is right and wrong, even if they do not have the Law of Moses. On the Day of Judgment, God will show them all the things they have done and will show them the sin in their lives that they knew to be wrong, even without the Law.
These “secrets of men” are the thought that we all have, whether we know the law or not, when we are led into temptation and we sin when we think that no one knows what we are doing. The man without the law lives his life this way.
They live in constant battle in doing good or evil, because they have a real sense that as long as the good outweighs the bad, they will be acceptable in heaven.
God will bring to light these secret occasions when they knew what was right and wrong, but they sinned anyway. No one will be able to say that they did not know Mosaic Law, because it is in their hearts.
Illustration: There is an insect that has a very close resemblance to the bumblebee, but which is a terrible enemy to it. Because of its likeness, it sometimes finds its way in a fraudulent manner into the bee’s nest, and there deposits its eggs. But when these eggs are hatched the larvae devour those of the bee. It comes in as a friend and helper, but turns out to be a devouring enemy. Such is the secret sin harbored in the heart. It eats away the vitals of the spiritual life, and effectually destroys the power of growth and usefulness. It is all the more dangerous when it comes in the likeness of a friend and helper in the work of the Lord. Beware of the deceitfulness of sin.
4. Worshippers Require Worth.
Inside of every person is a desire for worship. Ultimately, every person worships something or someone.
Even the word “worship” literally means, “worth-ship” which means we assign value or worth to that which we worship. Normally, we chose to worship something that is either equal to or greater than our own worth.
People may worship a rock or a piece of wood, but only if they genuinely believe that rock to have special qualities or magical abilities. We worship and exalt ourselves when we believe we have some amazing qualities or have accomplished some amazing things that are worth celebrating!
We put plaques on our walls, or diplomas in our office, to display how amazing we are and what we’ve done in life. We assign a high value to the things we have done.
But there is within all of us a desire to worship.
And we have a decision to make. Either we assign value, based on the evidence before us, to the one, true and living God who is the creator of the heavens and earth, or we worship anything else. There are only two options, and we must choose.
Illustration: One career that kids often say they want to be when they grow up is an astronaut. The idea of going into space for long periods of time seems fun and exciting. But during his 12-month tenure, astronaut Scott Kelly will drink about 730 liters of recycled urine and sweat — some of which, you may recall, will come from the Russian cosmonauts, who don’t partake in the processed pee themselves. He will see almost 11,000 sunsets. He will run 648 miles on a space treadmill. Enough fluid to fill a large bottle of soda will move from his legs up toward his head, because microgravity is a pain in the . . . well, everywhere. While he’s in space, Kelly’s poop will be jettisoned and burn up in the atmosphere, looking like “shooting stars.” Your poop will not look like a shooting star — unless you, too, become an astronaut. If that’s not a motivation to stay in school, I don’t know what is. And lest you think NASA is exaggerating: In 2009, a particularly large waste dump from the International Space Station had folks reporting a mysterious glow in the sky.
So often, we wish and hope and want the best for our lives. We trust in lucky pennies, wishes upon a shooting star, and good luck charms, only to discover that they are a waste of time!
When we look to the sky, look around the earth, breath every breathe of air and live every day of life, we ought to be consumed with the fact that God has put everything into motion and holds it all together, and for that reason, we must worship Him!